Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

Hangover face

Hangover face

Wonderful way to describe the face of a hungover man, though no doubt he felt every bit as bad as he looked, straining under the weight of a pounding headache.  The waste of time was considered deplorable, and the naval lieutenant whose permanent hangover has given...

As softly as …

As softly as …

What a place, what a time, the two idyllic years Durrell spent in Rhodes after the war.  His account is full of lyrical descriptions of scenes and sounds, and what could be more enchanting than having your days drop in as he describes. In Rhodes the days drop as...

Mineral metaphor

Mineral metaphor

Saint-Exupery takes your breath away with the originality of his metaphors.  That peace is greater than the sum of its parts is one thing, but to liken that to minerals assembling in the ground to form a tree shows the complexity of that sum of parts. Peace is present...

As fabulous as …

As fabulous as …

A marvelously original simile for 'fabulous', found in this slim, exquisitely written book by Saint-Exupery.  Something resonant in that phrase, the 'immensity of the sea', particularly as a description of expanding a boy's mind through the overheard conversations of...

A dam snake

A dam snake

Infrastructure likened to a curling serpent, whereas most serpentine similes I've seen have been speed-related.  See Tarka the Otter, Christopher Logue's War Music and Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan.... the great grey dam curled up in the sun like a basking snake. Source:...

As ancient as …

As ancient as …

As a simile for 'ancient' you could use a range of places and races, but here the intoning of the prayer makes 'Jewish' particularly appropriate.  In other contexts, we could say as ancient as China; as ancient as Babylon; as ancient as a trireme...And he began...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

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How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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